Roman Siege Towers

William Wang

Introduction

The Roman siege tower was one of the most powerful combat machines in the world at its time. Using the tower, Roman armies could get past solid two-story stone walls into nearly any fortress. It was easily built and could shelter dozens of armed soldiers from arrows and stones thrown by the enemy.

Inside the Tower

Roman siege towers could reach as tall as a three-story building, and were made mostly of wood. Because they were so large, these towers could contain many internal mechanisms, such as catapults, a battering ram, drawbridges, archer posts, and fireproofing.

A catapult like this would sometimes be used in the tower.

Example of a battering ram.

Construction

Most Roman siege towers were constructed almost entirely of humble wood and rope. This made them relatively difficult to construct, but with an entire legion working on a tower, it could be finished fairly quickly.

Building the Model

Materials

Building the model of the siege tower required just five materials:

  1. Lots of wood dowels
  2. Lots of string
  3. Scissors
  4. Wood saw
  5. Cardboard

Lashings

Two types of lashings were used to hold the dowels together: square and diagonal. Square lashings were used at right-angle corners, while diagonal lashings were used at non-right intersections. From there, it was simply a matter of carrying out all 32 lashings in the tower.

A square lashing.

A diagonal lashing.

A corner square lashing.

Structures

Frame

The frame was made entirely of wooden rods and rope.

Walls and Floors

The walls and floors were simply made of cardboard tied to support rods on the tower.

Drawbridge

The drawbridge was hinged to a horizontal rod and tied with two ropes so it would not fall down.

Battering Ram

The battering ram was made by pressing PVC end caps onto a used paper towel tube.

End Result

Conclusion

The Roman siege tower was a very impressive and useful work of Roman military engineering which helped Roman armies to breach seemingly impregnable fortresses.

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